Otterton Mill suffers 20k jewelery heist

PUBLISHED: 14:40 01 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:05 18 June 2010

THIEVES dished out more bad luck on previously flood-stricken Otterton Mill last weekend by stealing uninsured jewellery worth £20,000- part of which belonged to a Sidmouth artist.

THIEVES dished out more bad luck on previously flood-stricken Otterton Mill last weekend by stealing uninsured jewellery worth £20,000- part of which belonged to a Sidmouth artist.

Zsuzsi Morrison (pictured) lost 30 pieces of "irreplaceable" work worth £5,000 during the break-in in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Stolen intricate gold and silver enamel rings had taken her months to 'painstakingly' complete and were on display in a gallery at the tourist attraction.

The theft has deprived Zsuzsi of a third of her work which was to be displayed at a forthcoming exhibition.

She said: "It's gutting and I'm angry. It's the time that you can't get back and the designs - they are produced one by one.

"Each piece has very intricate enamelling, is incredibly recognisable, individual and irreplaceable - there won't be another one like it.

"This isn't just a load of jewellery that has been stolen it's my livelihood as an artist and is a big blow."

Resident artist Steve Whitford's workshop was almost stripped bare in the raid.

He said it will take months to replenish the stolen stock worth £15,000 - which took seven years to build up.

The robbery is a second blow to Mr Whitford. He was forced to close his workshop for three months at the end of last year because of floodwater.

Mill owner Caroline Spiller said stringent insurance rules meant the pair's work was not covered.

Mrs Spiller said the jewellers would have to install a myriad of security measures, such as bars on the windows, to satisfy insurers' 'prohibitive' rules.

Culprits forced their way into the property through the mill door using a crowbar.

Detective Sergeant Pete Jones, from Exmouth CID, said the force was working closely with officers in the Avon and Somerset area after a similar crime was committed.

He said although the crimes were not thought to be linked, the police were keeping an open mind.

DS Jones said forensic officers had examined the gallery and workshop and were trying to establish the exact time the offence was committed.

Sidmouth artist Zsuzsi has vowed to remain positive, "take the blow on the chin" and keep working. She said: "It's important people can see nationally known work locally- I don't want to have stuff just available in London- I live here. This won't put me off from displaying locally, if anything I'm more determined.


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